Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chihuly Glass

So the last posting covered the creation of a simple vase, but what of Chihuly.

Dale Chihuly is a real master of art glass. He ended up teaching at the college where he studied, because he was the one advancing the concepts. His work is exhibited worldwide and he undertakes commissions for corporations, museums and wealthy individuals.

He was blinded in one eye, ironically by glass, but a rather less beautiful piece of windscreen glass, when he was in a traffic accident in the UK, but he still designs and oversees the creation and installation of his work.

He does make some small pieces, either as awards and presentation pieces, or simply to sell to thise who can't spend hundreds of thousands on a chandelier or persian ceiling. Unfortunately even these small pieces cost a few thousand pounds.

Seeing a few of the small bits here was the first time since we started travelling that I wished I still earned money, as I really think I would have set aside my usual spend limits and bought a piece. Instead I just spent a long time admiring it and took a lot of photos!

But the majority of his work is anything but small. The photos here show some large pieces, but they are not nearly on the scale as some of his external installations.

The process that we saw just uses the free blowing method of blowing rolling, and waving the glass around to give it it's shape, with just simple tools used to shape an edge if needed. But another method makes use of moulds and more complex tools to form the glass into more complicated shapes. This method is used a lot by the Chihuly team.

Teams of people are needed for the large pieces, which can be well over twice a person's height. Some will hold and blow the piece from the top of a scaffold, with others twisting the hot glass around moulds, and still others use huge blowtorches to keep the glass at the necessary 1000 degrees centigrade.

Between the creation, transportation and installation of these incredible and delicate pieces, the breakage rate can be around seventy percent. No wonder it is expensive.

His chandeliers are enormous creations of twisting, cornucopias of coloured glass that throw light and shadow across the walls as well as looking amazing themselves.

He will cover a whole wall in his beautiful persians, which look like huge delicate flowers.

Or there are his persian ceilings, which are a glass ceiling filled with varying sizes, shapes and colours of his glass creations.  It is a simple enough idea, but the effect is stunning.  The best way to look at it is to lie down, so I took a photo by putting the camara on the floor with a timer to take the picture.

Then there are his boats...

... and his mixed installations that incorporate his stem like fioras, the sperical nijumas and other pieces, so look like some kind of wild forest growing up out of a mirrored base.

As you may have worked out, I love this glass. So don't tell Nic, but should Dale ever read this, take pity on me and send me a piece for when we have a home again, I would have to consider stopping travelling just so I have somewhere to put it!

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